What Drives A Startup To Succeed (The Getaround Story)

"Instead of adding new cars into the world, we decided to maximize what is already available." By Jessica Scorpio (Founder & Director of Marketing, Getaround)

Just three years ago, I was given the biggest challenge of my life: positively impact one billion people in 10 years. Myself, along with 39 other students in Singularity University’s inaugural class, was given this seemingly impossible “to do” by none other than Larry Page.

Focus: Transportation

When brainstorming ideas on how we could influence such an incredibly large amount of people, we decided to tackle something that affects most everyone around the world: transportation.

There are one billion cars in the world, and each car sits idle 92% of the time - that’s 154 hours a week on average that a car is doing nothing. And that one billion number is expected to double by 2030.

Sharing is Caring

With these numbers in mind, Getaround was born. Instead of adding new cars into the world, we decided to take a different approach - and maximize what is already available.

By allowing people to share their own cars with people nearby, Getaround helps unidle cars and give consumers a way to not only make money, but literally get around easier. As people start sharing, we hope that their mentality about car ownership and transportation will change: that sharing with your neighbor is a win/win situation which not only puts money in your pocket, but also helps the environment. We realized the impact this idea could have, particularly in the developing world, and made it our goal to make Getaround a global mobility company.

Long Road Ahead

After launching Getaround in alpha straight out of Singularity University, we knew we had a lot of work to get close to that goal of impacting one billion people. Our biggest barrier: securing insurance. We knew that in order for people to feel comfortable renting their cars to others, they had to feel as safe as possible.

Getting insurance companies on board was no easy feat. We were a company entering an unknown space, and we had everything to prove. It took us quite some time, but we worked to establish strong relationships with trusted insurance companies. In tandem, our small but mighty team set to work on passing laws in several states across the country establishing peer-to-peer car sharing as a legal and desirable transportation option.

Since we began this effort, we have helped to pass legislation in California, Oregon and Washington State - with other states looking to introduce similar legislation in the near future.

And while part of our team was focused on this aspect of getting to market, the engineering team was looking at how to make peer-to-peer car sharing an easy, and enjoyable experience. We created patented Carkit technology and an iPhone application to allow owners and renters to access their cars in a way that was intuitive, and made sense.

Disrupting Transportation

Less than two years after we were given that inspiring challenge, I stood on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt and watched all the pieces fell into place as we announced an official partnership with world-renowned insurance provider Berkshire-Hathaway and introduced to the world our Getaround iPhone application and Carkit by unlocking a Tesla Roaster. In less than 24 hours, we signed up over 1600 cars on Getaround's website.

And now, just one year after we officially launched, we’re proud to say we rolled out our service in four major markets, signed up over 10,000 shared cars, helped to pass carsharing legislation in three U.S. states and raised a round of seed funding. We have big plans for the rest of 2012, so stick around for the ride.

Editor's note: Got a question for our guest bloggers? Leave a message in the comments below. About the guest blogger: Jessica Scorpio is the Founder and Director of Marketing at Getaround, the leading marketplace for peer-to-peer car rentals that recently won TechCrunch Disrupt NYC 2011. Before Getaround, Jessica worked for the Government of Canada and founded IDEAL, a not-for-profit network for entrepreneurs and young leaders. Jessica is a Lieutenant Governor Award winner and a ePlanet Ventures Scholarship recipient. Follow her on Twitter at @jessicascorpio.